Posted 4th Apr 2018
Britain's reptiles can be found across the country, from the far north of Scotland to the south coast of England, from highland moors to lowland heaths, sand dunes to garden ponds
Our most famous, or perhaps that should be infamous, reptile is the adder, our only venomous snake. Adders are significantly smaller than many people realise, rarely reaching more than 50cm long. They can be found in moorlands, heaths and rough grassland where they will be seen sunbathing in groups early in the year as they emerge from their hibernacula. During the spring, males engage in the famous 'dance of the adders', as they raise up and twine around each other, ritually wrestling in the hope of winning the favours of a female.
You're far more likely to spot a grass snake - these are our largest reptiles, sometimes reaching a metre in length. found in wetland habitats, they are great swimmers and have a particular penchant for garden ponds.
Our three lizards include the common lizard, our most widespread reptile and the only one that is native to Ireland; the beautiful slow worm, a legless lizard who spends most of his time underground feeding on slugs and worms; and lastly, the brightly coloured sand lizard, something of a rarity, only found on southern heaths and sand dunes on the Merseyside coast. Another southern rarity is the shy smooth snake, which is now restricted to the heathlands of the New Forest, Dorset and Surrey.
How to do it
Our reptiles are sun-worshippers. Find a south-facing slope, with patches of bare ground that will warm up quickly next to areas of cover into which the animal can flee if they're disturbed - you then have the ideal reptile spotting location. Your first sighting is likely to be a quick glimpse as a tail disappeared underground. However, don't despair - individual snakes and lizards will normally have their preferred sun-bathing spots, so if you sit still and wait, they may well soon reappear.
If you can't get to the locations listed below...
Make your garden reptile-friendly. Wildlife ponds will attract frogs, which will in turn provide food for grass snakes, while compost heaps and log piles can be great spots for both grass snakes and slow worms.
Higher Hyde Heath in Dorset is home to all six native land reptiles, as well as Dartford warbler, nightjar and silver-studded blue, all making their homes on an internationally important heathland site.
Berkshire, Greenham and Crookham Commons
Berkshire, Widmoor Heath
Berkshire, Snelsmore Common
Cambridgeshire, Fulbourn Fen
Cornwall, Upton Towans
Cornwall, Chun Downs
Devon, Bovey Heathfield
Devon, Stapleton Mire
Dorset, Tadnoll and Winfrith
Essex, Two Tree Island
Essex, Stanford Warren
Glamorgan, Parc Slip
Kent, Sandwich and Pegwell Bay
Lancashire, Freshfield Dune Heath
Norfolk, Roydon Common and Grimston Warren
Northumberland, Holystone Burn
Northumberland, Annstead Dunes
Northumberland, Whitelee Moor
Northumberland, Fords Moss
Northumberland, Harbottle Crags
Powys, Abercamlo Bog
Suffolk, Blaxhall Common
Suffolk, Dunwich Forest
Suffolk, Sutton and Hollesley Commons
Surrey, Oakham and Wisley Commons
Surrey, Chobham Common
Surrey, Rodborough Common
Yorkshire, Potteric Carr
Yorkshire, Allerthorpe Common
Yorkshire, Strensall Common
Yorkshire, Fen Bog
Information and text courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts / image courtesy of © Jamie Hall